Surely many of you are familiar with Beso? It’s a shopping site run by my close pal and former coworker (and frequent Girls of a Certain Age commenter) Elise Loehnen, a person who—when it comes to finding treasures in unexpected places—makes me look like a piker. One of Elise’s proudest moments was when I agreed to let her run a bit in the magazine about some amazing bags she’d found on a site that sells old west reenactment supplies.
You can buy stuff from about a squillion retailers through Beso—everything from your Net-a-Porters and Shopbops to your hipster indie retailers like Acrimony and Totokaelo. But Beso is also home to many of our favorite Catalogue Challenge brands, and others like them. What we want you to do is create a collection composed entirely of pieces from those retailers. Here’s a sample collection Elise came up with, just to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about.
Your collection must have a minimum of 10 items, but really, the more the merrier—as long as it’s all stuff you can really stand behind. Click here to get started creating yours. The winner gets a $250Beso gift card.
You have until noon on Monday to send in submissions. Have at it.
So the results of our little contest are in, and let me start out by saying that you ladies brought the goods. Judging was not always pretty, nor was it fun, but it was deeply educational—I now know where all of those kittycats-playing-around-the-Christmas-tree sweatshirts come from, for instance. Because you sent in so many entries, I’ll be doing eliminations in rounds: a new group every day, going from least to most challenging. You wouldn’t want to take it all in at once. The mind reels.
L.L. Bean: Couldn’t be simpler to find something here—I’d probably even welcome an L.L. Bean gift card and spend it on a ton of their indestructible weekend totes. But I’ve also been toying with buying a pair of these classic duck boots literally since I was 17 and saw how cool all the hippie/preppy girls at boarding school looked in them. Those same girls have all grown up, and they still look super-chic as they clomp around Manhattan in the rain and the snow in them every winter.
Talbots: If LL Bean personifies all that is the Maine and outdoorsy about the New England sensibility, then it’s safe to say that Talbots has Connecticut covered. It’s modest but not dowdy; more Laura Bush than Barbara, and nobody’s definition of sexy. But this little pink sheath is just as wearable as it could possibly be.
Land’s End is tougher: more outdoorsy, less classic. Thank God for their expansive swimwear collection. I love this flirty little flowery suit.
Vineyard Vines:“Whale belts and critter clothes galore,” pipes in commenter Erika, and this does kind of sum up what Vineyard Vines is all about. It’s the go-to spot for the girl who wants to make double-sure people know that her look is PREPPY, and in a way that skews kind of prissy and sorority girl: seersucker skirts; polo shirts; totes with little crab prints. I did manage to find this cute pintuck top, however, which is not entirely unlike this little number.
Victoria’s Secret : “Clothing,” specified commenter Danielle. “Even in their non-lingerie department, it is totally boob city over there.” Not everything, Danielle. My friend Liz has been swearing by their cotton and cashmere wrap cardigans for years. This one is super-soft (and comes in black and grey too). And it’s really cute: You’ve just got to try very hard to recontextualize what you’re seeing and imagine the sweater separate and apart from the image.
Sundance The Sundance catalogue fascinates me: its aesthetic seems to be middle aged Santa Fe lady as focus-grouped by a bunch of 16 year-old girls in the Valley. Which means things can go very, very wrong. Super-wrong. But I’ve got friends who consistently weed out great stuff there. Like this embroidered belt, which is just the thing to give a nice bit of pop to your same old boring summer khakis and white t-shirt.
NEXT UP: Chico’s, Midnight Velvet, and far more excitement than you can possibly imagine.
I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.